As fuel prices fluctuate (and always end up a little higher than we hoped for) the need for better economy is paramount for nearly all of us. Unless someone else is paying for your gas, nobody is less than frustrated at the fuel pump these days. Short of buying an economy car, many of us feel stuck with current gas prices with no hope in sight. So what can you do to save on fuel when you need to drive your car to and from work every day?
If you’ve got a 1996 or newer vehicle, then Auto Meter might just have an answer for you, and it’s all in a small gauge they call the ecometer. The ecometer isn’t a component that changes anything about the car or engine, rather it’s a gauge that aims to change something else: the driver. By installing the ecometer, it helps the driver to pay more attention to bad driving habits that cause poor fuel economy.
The ecometer is designed for someone who commutes regularly for work, and would like to make fewer fuel stops each year. It won’t change the amount you pay per gallon, but it just might make you aware of how you’re driving, and give you some incentive to drive more economically.
Does It Work?
One of the first things that many people think of when they see a gadget that improves fuel economy is that it doesn’t perform as suggested. But the ecometer does exactly what it’s supposed to do, and whether or not you get better fuel economy is entirely up to you.
The gauge simply plugs into the OBD port on most OBD II compliant vehicles, and accesses the information from the factory computer. It can read your fuel consumption and report back real-time miles per gallon figures, as well as your overall fuel consumption and average fuel economy. It also has the ability to display other functions from your car’s computer, such as the tachometer or speedometer, but the main focus is on driving economically.
We installed one on a 2004 V6-powered Mustang, and away we went. The car sees over 100 miles each day commuting to and from work, and the best part is that the car’s owner, our own LSX Magazine editor Paul Huizenga, has been keeping track of his fuel mileage and consumption for quite some time – over 100,000 miles, to put a figure to it.
Paul gave us access to his online fuel logs and showed us what his fuel mileage figures were. He said that over the past 122,426 miles his Mustang averaged 21.1 MPG, filling up 485 times for a total of $20,096.41 in gas. We told you he’s been keeping track of it! A few weeks ago, he installed the ecometer and continued monitoring his fuel economy.
As we mentioned, the ecometer is not going to alter your car to get better mileage, the goal is to alter you and the way you drive. One thing that Huizenga mentioned is the bar graph on the ecometer, it changes from red, to amber, to green, depending on how you drive. Red LEDs indicate that you’re not getting the best economy, and green is where you want to try to be.
Even though you shouldn’t try to read the gauge while you’re driving, you can mount it within eyesight and you can actually see when the meter is on green, or red. “It’s almost a bit of a game you can play, when the gauge goes red you can try to lift your foot a little and see if you can keep it in the green,” he said.
After a few weeks of driving more than 100 miles per day to and from work, was Paul able to get better economy? The answer is: yes. Over the last seven fill-ups, he was able to drive more economically and achieve 23.03 MPG, which is a nine-percent improvement in fuel economy. Granted, he does a bit more driving than many people, but even if you have a shorter commute, it can still help you in the same manner.
“If I had an ecometer in my car from day one,” Huizenga said, “I would have saved $1,659.00 in fuel costs.” While it’s not a huge increase in miles per gallon, two MPG is significant enough, and he got better fuel economy because he was more aware of how he was driving, and that’s the whole point behind the ecometer.
He saw a slight increase because he was able to change his habits, and that means that the ecometer did it’s job effectively. That’s not bad for a part that just plugs into the OBD port and doesn’t change anything about your car.
Maybe you don’t drive a hundred miles a day in your car, so your fuel cost savings will take a little bit longer. But for a gauge that will cost you just under a hundred bucks – and we know this sounds a bit too cliché – it will pay for itself over time – as long as you can keep it in the green.
If you’re interested in getting the ecometer for your car, check it out at Auto Meter’s website, they have two versions depending on the year of your vehicle. The ecometer fits most vehicles from 1996 to present with an OBD II port, but once you install it… the savings are entirely up to you.